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zooming for 5D/7D/60D


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#1 Mark Schlicher

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Posted 28 June 2011 - 12:32 PM

Thinking about the use of Canon DSLR's in live (sports, music performance, documentary/reality) situations, and one limitation is the lack of wired, video-style zoom control.


Anyone found a workable combination of controller, lens, adapter, etc. that would allow live zooming with these cameras?
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#2 Sydney Seeber

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Posted 28 June 2011 - 03:31 PM

Thinking about the use of Canon DSLR's in live (sports, music performance, documentary/reality) situations, and one limitation is the lack of wired, video-style zoom control.


Anyone found a workable combination of controller, lens, adapter, etc. that would allow live zooming with these cameras?

Are you using still lenses? A DSLR in video mode remotely shooting sports would be insanely difficult I would think, assuming you're using those type of lenses. Zoom I would think is the easiest solution... Most if not all existing motor controllers that work with external FIZ will work with zoom as well with any/most of the Zacuto etc. lens accessories. That's depending on the lens used, and of course the much more limited zoom range on a lens designed for such a large sensor. I would think the major issue is iris/aperture control, unless you're using cinema lenses.
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#3 Mark Schlicher

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Posted 28 June 2011 - 04:31 PM

Sidney,

Thanks for the reply. Let me paint a more specific scenario...

Goal: to be able to control zoom and focus on a DSLR with a gimble-mounted controller such as a G-zoom or Stanton. To allow quick reframes between shots and smooth live zooms during moves. Primarily thinking of this for live music events but thought it might have docco and sports application. Goal would be do this either with a specific lens, or to have a more universal solution that would work across a range of lenses.


Assumptions and understandings:
1. Focus can be handled by a G-zoom/Bartech/M1 combo or a Stanton zoom/focus control, with nearly any still zoom or appropriate cine zoom, with the right mounting brackets.
2. Still zooms don't track focus while zooming so they are probably not appropriate for this use
3. The exception I know of is the Lumix 14-140 but this is micro 4/3 and not relevent to the Canons
4. I don't believe there are any adapters for ENG lenses that would simply allow one of those to be used.
5. Iris is out of the equation; it would be preset between shots

Questions:
1. Does anyone make a ENG-style lens (built-in zoom servo and focus servo with a remote plug) for large-sensor cameras?
2. Could a BUZ be a piece of the solution? Does it interface with the G-zoom? What would be a light, wide-angle 35mm cine zoom that would work with a setup like this?

The only hypothetical solutions I can think of are a wide angle 35mm zoom lens, a rods setup, plus
1. a G-zoom and BUZ unit and zoom motor. For focus, the G-zoom is connected to a Bartech receiver and a focus motor, or...
2. A Stanton zoom/focus setup with motors for zoom and focus, with cine pitch gears

This would theoretically replicate on a DSLR, a live TV setup, wouldn't it?

Curious if these ideas work in practice. Curious if there are other solutions. I wonder if these solutions would also be the best with cine-style cameras like the F3, AF100, etc.
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#4 Sydney Seeber

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Posted 28 June 2011 - 06:30 PM

Sony and Panasonic have got several servo controlled lenses in the works for their large sensor (4/3, 35mm) mid range dedicated video cameras, but they're internal servo control, so that means LANC type control, which doesn't help you with Canon DSLRs. Those controls are pretty shitty anyway. The Panasonic cheap zoom lenses don't hold their focus any better throughout its range than a still lens does, which is really none whatsoever... Sony's new midrange ENG-like lenses are probably pretty decent, since the prices start at around 7 grand I'm told. But for your Canon, I'm willing to bet that the BUZ idea is best. Thing is, your choices for lenses are pretty slim for a Canon mount zoom cinema lens... As in one lens that I know of, made by Zeiss. It's like 30 grand. I heard Angenieux was making one as well, but if they are, I doubt that will be a bargain. The PL mount adapter for Canon cameras is like 3 grand if you don't want your camera body modified.
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#5 Tom Wills

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Posted 28 June 2011 - 06:57 PM

A few months back, I was actually trying to convince one of the low-level camera gadgetry makers to make up a very simple, "prosumer" level servo zoom. Just a little rocker and a small motor - nothing too complex. The electronics are already out there in several forms (PWM motor drivers), and the mechanics can't be too complicated for a company that's making all sorts of CNC-machined goodies. Oh well.

It's something I've been wanting since I first played with the 5D and 7D for commercial work. On the first commercial I worked on using the 5D (I was a dolly grip), the DP was asked to do a 5 second long zoom, on a still lens. No way! With a servo, it would have been a simple, smooth, and easy affair. Instead, we ended up doing it on a dolly, which required a lot more rigging and setup than a simple zoom would have. It looked nice in the end, but the director wanted a zoom, and we all would have had an easier shoot if we had been able to pull it off. (it took several takes to get the combination of move and focus pull the DP was comfortable with, pushing the shoot behind schedule)

Maybe it's time to talk to that company again.
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#6 Sydney Seeber

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Posted 28 June 2011 - 08:01 PM

a 5 second long zoom, on a still lens. No way! With a servo, it would have been a simple, smooth, and easy affair.

the problem with that is since still lenses aren't designed to work like video lenses, it's a bit of a crap shoot as to whether or not that will work. There's problems like lens creep (Lens will not stay in focus) which is compounded by also zooming the lens during a shot. Also, still lenses are generally unreliable with holding focus throughout the entire range of a zoom, even when creep isn't a factor. Since the servo mechanisms are internal, there's not much you can do about it.
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#7 Tom Wills

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Posted 28 June 2011 - 08:23 PM

the problem with that is since still lenses aren't designed to work like video lenses, it's a bit of a crap shoot as to whether or not that will work. There's problems like lens creep (Lens will not stay in focus) which is compounded by also zooming the lens during a shot. Also, still lenses are generally unreliable with holding focus throughout the entire range of a zoom, even when creep isn't a factor. Since the servo mechanisms are internal, there's not much you can do about it.


While I agree that still lenses don't work like video lenses, and I sure wish they did, there are some that would work (at least enough to pull off a shot like I mentioned, or reframes like Mark is mentioning). A rental company put together a list of decent parfocal SLR zooms, including the Canon 70-200 2.8 and 16-35 2.8, both lenses I've seen used a lot on SLR shoots. Even if the lens isn't parfocal, I've seen decent results from stopping down to the F4 range.

It's not optimal, and I wish that Zeiss would come out with a zoom compliment to the Compact Primes (that is to say, less expensive, and working more like a cinema lens), but there still would be the issue of not having a reasonably affordable (I'm talking under $2000) servo zoom option.
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#8 Charles Papert

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Posted 29 June 2011 - 02:05 AM

I have used my Microforce mounted on the pan handle very successfully with my Tokina zooms on a few occasions. I sold my gimbal Microforce a while back but I'm sure that would have worked as well. The true manual focus mode on the Tokinas allow them to function more traditionally than the Canon drive-by-wires.
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#9 Mark Schlicher

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Posted 29 June 2011 - 11:23 AM

Tom and Charles,

Thanks for the info. Charles, most of the current Tokina zooms are for crop-sensor cameras (not a problem for me, as I have a 60D). I like the Tokina's manual focus mode. Can't find solid info about which Tokinas are parfocal.

Which Tokina lenses do you like on your 1D?

Looks like a Tokina 12-24 could be a good place to start on my 60D, for a wide angle zoom.

The Canon 16-36L would clearly be a good choice for fullframe.

Any other suggestions?

I also like the range of this crop sensor lens: Tokina 16.5-135MM F/3.5-5.6 DX.

I also saw the following lens listed as a parfocal lens. Tamron 24-135 SP F3.5-5.6. Useful focal ranges for both crop and fullframe sensors.

Either of these seem like they could be a good walkabout/interview lens.
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#10 Charles Papert

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Posted 29 June 2011 - 12:44 PM

I use all Tokina full frame lenses: the current FX 16-28, which is a fantastic lens, and the older AT-X 28-80 and 80-200, which are OK, not quite as sharp as the Canons but they color match my ZE's well. Tokina is planning a full range of FX zooms so I imagine a refresh of those focal lengths will be forthcoming. I like them for HDSLR work because their mechanical manual focusing mode works great with remote lens controls, having hard stops.
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